Christine and the Queens' Chris: What You Need To Know
For French singer-songwriter Héloïse Letissier – better known by her onstage persona Christine and the Queens – the path to success has been something of a slow burn. Self-releasing her debut EP Miséricorde in 2011, a handful of other EPs followed before her French-language debut album, Chaleur humaine, finally made its arrival in June 2014. Initially released only in her native France, the album entered the French charts at No.6 and bounced around the Top 40 for the best part of the next two years, peaking at No.2 in February 2015.
An English-language version arrived in the UK almost exactly a year later, debuting at the very modest position of No. 192 before beginning a slow and steady climb up the charts that would eventually see Chaleur humaine reach the Top 10, peaking at No.2 in June 2016, largely as the result of a stellar appearance at that year's Glastonbury Festival.
This week Christine is back with the follow-up to her debut and this time the album's release roll-out is set to be a lot less messy, with both English and French versions set to arrive in stores today. Here's everything you need to know...
A little background...
The first indication of a follow-up to her debut came in an early 2017 interview with NME, in which Letissier indicated that she had a pretty clear idea of where 'Christine' was headed next, and that her new sounds would be “more sweaty” and “tougher”. It would be a full year before new music emerged, which it eventually did in May this year with 'Girlfriend', the English-language version of the simultaneously-released 'Damn, dis-Moi', a slice of 80s-influenced pop that might well be her most infectious single to date.
Along with the single came a new androgynous look and a video in which Christine – now abbreviated to 'Chris' – blends gender and genre in an evolution of her onstage persona. The shortened moniker was also revealed to be the title of her sophomore LP, which was announced shortly after the release of 'Girlfriend' in June this year.
Who's producing it?
Like her debut, Chris is produced by Letissier herself.
Any special guests?
Dâm-Funk makes an appearance on 'Girlfriend', but otherwise, it's pretty much just Chris on her own here.
What does it sound like?
The first thing to say here is that the shift in her music isn't as radical as the change in her appearance, so if you fell in love with the quirky synth-pop of her debut then you'll find plenty to like about its follow-up too.
'Girlfriend' is probably the most instantly-accessible tune on the album and is a close to a perfect three-minute pop song as you're likely to hear this year, but there are plenty of other gems here including 'The Walker', which has much more in common with the brooding, synth-heavy deep cuts on her debut, and '5 Dollars', which is certainly one of the album's most euphoric moments.
It's in the lyrics however that her new-look stage persona really begins to make sense, and while Chris isn't really what you'd describe as a concept album there are some recurring lyrical themes which challenge the notion of male privilege and the idea of a dominant sex.
Does it deliver?
If it took a long time for her debut to really start landing on mainstream radio and in the public consciousness, that's only because Chris is not an easy artist to pigeonhole or define. But she is certainly one of the most unique artists around right now and on Chris her brand of 'freakpop', as she calls it, manages the juggling act of being both accessible and complex at the same time. If you enjoyed her debut, then get ready to go a little deeper on its follow-up.